OXFORD R. REVISITED
Revised memorandum to undergraduates sent out. Stream of men begins. I saw the last war from the bureaucratic centre; this is the other real end.
Diary Note for September 11, 1939.
O N February 25, 1937, the Senior Fellow of University, Spencer Farquharson, wrote asking if I was willing to be considered as a candidate for the Mastership when the present Master retired on September 30. The present Master was A. B. Poynton, who had been Bursar when I was Stowell Fellow; he had been put in as Master for two years at the end of his time, in succession to Michael Sadler, my befriender in Toynbee days.
Farquharson's letter, though written at the request of the Fellows, was studiously non-committal as to what would happen if I answered "yes": "For the situation as to votes I can't at present calculate." Nor was any hasty decision needed for the College; the post would not be vacant till October 1; the election would be in May.
For me an early decision, one way or another, was important. So on my birthday, March 5, I went to Oxford, saw each of the Fellows alone in turn, satisfied them that I looked like a tolerable Master and satisfied myself that return to Oxford, with its other attractions, would give me the chance of doing the scientific work that I desired. The salary was £700 a year less than I had in London, but with the house and other things there was no difference to count. The matter was settled in that week-end. The Fellows celebrated making up their minds on the Mastership by removing from their Common Room the bust of Alfred, official but unhistorical Founder of the College. Later I found Alfred flat on his face in a cupboard and had him restored to decent honour; in the ante-room of the Library he gazes now with natural pensiveness at the gigantic legal brethren -- Lord Eldon and Lord Stowell. University has always had more statuary than it had good homes for. A new Library had to be built to remove Eldon and Stowell from overwhelming the readers in the old Library. But Shelley remained in his